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Gadgets Lifestyle

A Geek Gift For My Son At 10

My older son turned 10 years recently. A milestone. A big excuse for an “owambe” party.

Instead, the introvert in me opted for a quiet family outing, a decision that was further reinforced by the spiraling¬†exchange rate. Well, that is the excuse we all give for our cost cutting? ūüôā

Weakened Naira or not, i could not talk my self out of a gift for him.

It did not take me too long to decide on a gift though, a decision probably influenced by a previous addiction – A Gaming Console.

Old timers on this blog would probably remember Sega Genesis, known outside the USA as Sega Mega Drive. Those were the days Sega ruled the gaming world. The popular gaming console¬†even got a mention in the Notorious B.I.G.’s breakout hit back in 1994; “Juicy“.

Almost every waking hour i had, NEPA willing, i was behind the gaming console. Mortal Kombat 3 was my favourite game cartridge. Yes, those 16 bit games back then came in cartridges. I had permanent sore thumbs from making all those “finishing” moves.

Perhaps, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to relive those good old days, live vicariously through my son? Hmmm.

(To Be Continued)

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Gadgets

Finally, A Lollipop Update That Works On Innjoo One

item_XL_8109461_7914741All through 2015, a string of Android OS Lollipop updates were released for the Innjoo One 3G phone. While the updates worked on a few phones, for most, there were severe bugs that caused bootloops.

Finally, an update that works has been released but not by Innjoo but by an individual who ported the 12.1 version (Lollipop 5.1.1) of the open source Android operating system, Cyanogenmod, to Injoo One 3G.

Details and installation instructions for this update can be found here

Categories
Gadgets

Tecno Droipad 8H – A Hands On Review

TECNO DROIDPAD 8HINTRODUCTION

Reviews of this tablet is not very much available on the Internet. Worst still, the website of the manufacturer also do not have information on this device. Something akin to a mystery surrounds this tab.

It has been wrongly referred to as DROIDPAD and H8 in many online references, coupled with incorrect product specifications.

While its product specifications can be considered decent, there is no surprises here. Product differentiation among recent android devices, especially those manufactured by Chinese companies, can be considered trivial and almost non existent.
However, the Droipad 8H manages to differentiate itself in 2 key departments. More on this later.

TECNO 8H KEY FEATURES

Detailed device specifications, images and video reviews can be viewed here.

FIRST THOUGHTS

A few things have changed since i penned my first thoughts on this product (read here);

  1. OTA updates now works, but not with a 64GB memory card. I was able to achieve the update with a 2GB card. The 64 GB card, however, works well for regularly usage.
  2. Though this tablet charges somewhat slowly, power inverters and generator effectively charges it. Not sure if this good fortune was a result of a bug fix from the systems update.
  3. Side loading apps is a tad faster but still generally slow.
  4. And I still do not know where Tecno hid the game data of the games that came bundled with the tablet. Gigabytes of space remains tied up.

DESIGN AND BUILD

The trend is for manufacturers to have their products encased in very beautiful and attractive retail packages. Unfortunately, It is also a fact that some of these packages are probably worth more than the device itself.

That is not the case with Tecno.

The black variant of the Tecno Droipad 8H that I chose came in an all black beautiful retail packaging, with gold lettering.

Unboxing the package, the Droipad is the first thing that stares you in the face.

Carefully thought out and put together, the mature and premium feel that the retail packaging exuded continues with the device itself. Predominantly black with gold trimmings at the top and bottom edges, the gold colour choice was also extended to the volume and power buttons.

Digging deeper into the packaging, you can not help but wonder why such a premium designed product would come with such austere accessories; Flip case, decent earpiece and the mandatory charger. That is all! Not even a memory card!

The flip case that comes with it fits snugly onto the tablet giving it a protective feel. For those familiar with Tecno products, their flip case design has become somewhat boring as it does not seem to have changed at all over the years.

OUTSTANDING FEATURES

  • Audio

The speakers on this device would blow your mind. Audio quality is rich, mature and loud enough. Playback via the 3.5mm jack is also very good. For the audiophiles out there, i recommend this. Do not look any further.

The stereo speakers are located on the face of the tablet on its top and lower edges.

  • Battery

After 12 hours of moderate mixed use; WiFi on all through, light video watching, music playback, a game of scrabble, etc, the battery stood at 49%. Shocking, but true. To think Tecno quoted only 9 hours battery life for this device.

  • E-Reader

With about 2,000 epub ebooks, a sprinkle of Pdf files and my choice ebook app, Mantano, reading has been a joy. Scrolling through my ebook collections is a breeze, with almost unnoticeable lag.

OVERALL

It is a highly saturated market for Android devices. The tablets, especially, have never fared as well as the phones. Moreso, manufacturers have intentional crippled the features of tablets for reasons best known to them.

I will definitely chose the Droipad over any other tablet in the market, mainly because it managed to find the sweet spot between quality and price.

Definitely not the best in the market, but the audio quality and battery life is definitely too hard to ignore.

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Gadgets

Tecno DroidPad 8H Tablet – Initial Thoughts

TECNO DROIDPAD 8HPicked up a Tecno DroidPad 8H yesterday after months of procrastination. No thanks to the almost non-existent hands on review of the tablet on the internet to guide my purchase decision. The seller eventually agreed to N31,500 after minutes of haggling. I thought it was a good bargain as I would have paid more than that on Jumia.

I intend the 8 incher to serve as a Phone (Yes, Phone) and something to read my pile of ebooks from.

The specs? No surprise there. Tecno squeezed a miserly 1GB RAM into it, a single SIM (not Dual SIM!), a generous 5100mAH battery, 16GB ROM and a quad core processor, all sweetened with Android Lollipop OS, 5.0

INITIAL SCARE
I try to make a habit of charging my gadgets before first use. That I did. But I was shocked when, one hour later, the battery level was still stuck at 65%! It hadn’t moved an inch! What?!

Okay, calm down. Perhaps, it’s something to do with the inverter? I switched over to the power generator, still no dice. By now, the battery level had even dropped to 63%.

Power from the grid was restored a few minutes later, and to my relief, I saw the battery level inch (albeit reluctantly) upwards till it reached 100% over an hour later.

This is not good.

Does it mean the tab can not be charged from the inverter or the power generator? Or has this got something to do with its unusual battery capacity of 5100mAH? Would need to investigate further on this.

EVEN MORE QUIRKS

  1. Getting on the internet was a breeze via Wi-Fi. I have not gotten around to swiching my SIM card into the tab yet. Initial set up did not bug me with setting up my play store, so I did not bother. Instead I settled for side loading apps into it to save on bandwidth costs. App installation was soooo sloooooww!. Aaaargh! Tecno, what is this?!
  2. Noticed the available system update. It brightened me up a bit. Perhaps a fix for the slow app installer? But alas, the system update failed – severally! I gave up.
  3. A bunch of games came bundled with the tablet. I did not care much about the games, so i decided to uninstall. That went without event, until i noticed that gigabyte of space is still being tied down by the games data. Checked the OBB and DATA folders, empty! Where are these data stored? By the way, you have less than 10GB space to play with from the advertised 16GB.

(The full hands on review is next)

Categories
Gadgets

Western Digital EX2 Network Attached Storage – A Review

My plan was to pick up the 4 bay option of Western Digital’s (WD) Network Attached Storage (NAS), the EX4. With this option, i would have a storage device that can accomodate 4 hard disk drives. However, budget considerations made me settle for the 2 bay option, the EX2.

What Are Network Attached Storages (NAS)?

NAS are usually compact enclosures that are fitted with multiple hard drives. But unlike your regular hard drives, your NAS has the following additional features;

  1. Generally, such devices can be controlled via a web interface, like your router, giving you a centralized dashboard to monitor your storage (Health, shares, usage, etc).This web interface masks the powerful Linux Operating systems that the NAS rides on.
  2. The NAS is connected to a Wired or Wireless network, making the hard drives accessible to all devices (Computers, Tablets, Smartphones) on the network.
  3. You have an option to limit access to the NAS to your local network or you can access it over the Internet. Think of your own personal dropbox.
  4. You can then access the files using a variety of different applications and even run different bits of software on the NAS itself, such as media-server solutions for streaming media (Music, Video or pictures) to the different devices on your network and BitTorrent clients for downloading directly on the device. Many types of back-up software can back up directly to the network storage.
  5. Most have a bunch of one-click installable apps (WordPress, Joomla, Dropbox, etc) that can transform your NAS to your website host.
  6. For small businesses, it can serve as a central storage for your files and allows for collaboration. You could also set up your company Intranet on it.
  7. They have slots for multiple hard drives; 3.5″, 2.5″ or both.

91APo+MU3yL._SL1500_Why Western Digital EX2?

What differentiates one NAS from the other include the following;

  1. Ease of use. As this device is targetted at the Home and Small Business audience who have limited technology skills, effort is put into making these devices as easy and intuitive as possible to use, particularly the embedded Operating System.
  2. Quality of the Hardware
  3. Cost
  4. Availability of third party apps

The WD EX2 excels in (almost) all these. But i must quickly note that, at the moment, third party apps for this device are very, very few.

I picked up the diskless variant from Amazon for about $160 and it arrived within 3 days. It is a 2-bay NAS and it allows a maximum of 2 drives in its enclosure. As of June 2015, current firmware supports a maximum capacity of 6TB for a single drive for this NAS, making a maximum of 12TB for the 2 bays in its enclosure. However, i picked up a single 4TB drive for about $160, hoping to pick up another as soon as the drive fills up.

Please note that while your regular computer hard drives will work in your NAS, there are drives that are specially built to work with them because of their peculiarities. Western Digital calls theirs WD Red. Hard disks stacked close to each other in a NAS will be subject to more heat and vibration as they chug away than they would in a desktop tower, so the Red series have hardware-based vibration compensation technology to improve long-term reliability when used in arrays of between two and eight drives. They are usually a bit (just a bit) more expensive than your regular drives.

819t3gmzMcL._SL1500_So What Happens To My Old External Drives?

Good News! While you are limited to the number of drives that you can fit into the enclosure of your NAS, whether you choose the 2 or 4 bay option, the WD NAS comes with 2 USB 3.0 ports. You can easily connect your old drives into these ports directly or via a, preferrably, powered hub if you have multiple hard drives or flash drives.

Basically,

  1. You will be extending the capacity of the NAS. You easily add additional GB/TB to the capacity of your NAS
  2. Easily take back ups of the drives in the enclosure.
Categories
Gadgets

Innjoo – Service Par Excellence

Between June 1 and June 7,2015 Jumia had what it called its “Megathon”. Specific mobile phone models from selected manufacturers were sold at 50% off its retail value.

innjoo-one-gold_v8nhIt was an opportunity for me to pick up a phone for my workplace SIM. I decided on an Innjoo One – Gold that was being offered for N13,999.00 after applied discount.

I was not particularly thrilled with the specifications of the phone but who can refuse such a huge discount. I had noticed that, lately, most phones being churned out from Asia – particularly China – have very predicatble specifications; Google Android 4.4.2 KitKat (Don’t they know Lollipop’s been out for almost a year?!), 1GB/2GB RAM, Mediatek Processor (usually MT6592) with 16GB Internal Memory.I ranted about this extensively on twitter the night after i took delivery of the phone.

Shockingly, just a few minutes after my rant and as if with a mind of its own, the phone slid off the table and landed face down on the ceramic tiled floor. I was speechless for the whole of 2 minutes. This was nothing short of a “Harakiri” that the phone just pulled on me. I quietly packed up the phone and went to bed to grieve over the loss.

Next morning i called Innjoo service center and was informed that i would be parting with N8,500.00 to replace the shattered screen. Wow! Screen replacement is going to cost me more that half of what i paid for the whole phone!

Took a dash there during my lunch break, was given a tally number on arrival. However, i did not spend more than 10 minutes before i was attended to.

Apparently, the model is a recent release and the customer service lady expressed her doubt on the availability of a replacement screen.

“Can you give me a minute to speak with my supervisor?”, she asked.

Damn! I was already thinking in my mind how this was going to play out;

“Sorry we don’t have a replacement screen at the moment. Do you mind leaving the phone with us and come back for it in, say, 3 weeks?” I had made up my mind to smash the phone on their floor if she comes back with such a response.

She was back a few minutes later and started, “Sorry we don’t have a replacement screen at the moment…”. Damn! Knew it! But she continued,”Do you mind if we replace with a new one? You will only be paying the same N8,500.00″

New one?! Really! Wow!

“Sure, sure” I responded excitedly “I don’t mind”

5 minutes and N8,500.00 later, i was out of the service center with a brand new Innjoo One – Gold phone.

A very happy ending to a rather sad experience. Innjoo, you get my vote for good service delivery.

Categories
Gadgets Hack Tips

Broken Beats by Dr. Dre HeadPhones? A Quick Fix

BeatsByDrDre_TGGot a pair of Dr. Dre Beats headphones that got broken after only a few weeks of use. While the quality of the speakers are well above average, the plastic band and particularly the hinges seems quite cheap. Mine snapped right at the hinges.

These headphones are not cheap, so having it breakup can be very be heart breaking. While it is possible to to get a replacement band, this will probably cost you close to US$100, not including shipping costs to Nigeria.

My quick fix was to grab one of my wife’s black Headbands – a plain one – and using black tapes to blend with the colour of the headphones, taped the band to its inside, creating a sort of splint for the broken hinge of the headphone.

Smart ehn?

2140751

 

Categories
Gadgets Hack

Oh My God! It Works!

chuwi-vx3A while back, I was on a search for the perfect phone. A search that took me to the Far East where i finally settled for the Chuwi VX3, a premium grade Octa Core, 2GB RAM Chinese 7 Inch tablet.

Some may wonder how possible it is to mention “Premium Grade” and “Chinese” in the same breath. But surprisingly, believe me when i say this Phablet will trounce many of the popular brands you know.

This is not a review of this “Phablet”. However, you may read about its specs here and a good video review can be found at the end of this post.

Now to the gist of this story.

Most phone brands from Asia, China especially, are powered by chips made by a company called Mediatek (MTK). Think of Tecno, Infinix, Innjoo, Gionee, etc brands. You catch my drift? My Chuwi VX3 falls smack in the middle of these brands. They are all powered by Mediatek chips.

What makes this brand of chips unique is that they are a hacker’s delight. Depending on who you ask, this might be a good thing or a not so good one.

Perhaps the most useful hack i have stumbled on is the Blackberry IMEI hack. What this hack does is to change the IMEI of your android phone to that reserved for pre OS10 Blackberry devices. What that means is that your phone is registered on your mobile network as a Blackberry phone allowing you to enjoy cheap Blackberry Internet Services data rates on your android phones.

In Nigeria, the hack works best on the Globacom network where you only have to pay N1,000 for a 3GB data allowance. I read up the post from this dude on Geek.ng, applied the Blackberry IMEI hack on my Chuwi VX3 and guess what?! It works! It works!! It really works!!!

Globacom now recognizes my Phablet as a Blackberry 8300 Curve ūüôā

 

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Gadgets

Extending The Capabilities Of The MS Surface Pro : A Review Of Plugable UD-3900 Docking Station

surface pro 2I use a Surface Pro 2 tablet as my regular laptop. With its up to 8 hour battery life, the tab stores enough juice to last an average work day. However, at home, its limitations become very apparent.

For reasons best known to only Microsoft, this device comes with only a single port Рa USB 3.0 port. While I could extend its screen, wirelessly, using a WDTV Live Player I picked up a while back as a conduit, to a bigger 42-inch screen using Miracast Technology, my expansion options were still very limited.

Unfortunately, the Surface Pro 3, the latest iteration of this tablet, also suffer the same dearth of ports. These tablets are not cheap and it is a little disheartening that so much was paid for so little.

Browsing through Amazon, I stumbled on a docking station that compensated for about all the ports that the Surface Pro lacked. It is a universal dock – it extends the capabilities of just about any tablet or laptop, unlike the dedicated proprietary one Microsoft is offering, which you would have to throw out with the Surface Pro whenever you are done with it.

PlugableThe Plugable UD-3900 docking station connects to the single USB 3.0 port on the Surface Pro, compensating it with the following additional ports;

  1. Dual Video Outputs (HDMI up to 2560×1440* and DVI / VGA to 2048×1152 / 1920×1200
  2. Gigabit Ethernet (One)
  3. USB 3.0 Ports (Two)
  4. USB 2.0 Ports (Four)
  5. 3.5mm Audio Jack (One)
  6. 3.5mm Microphone Jack (One)

Like another reviewer noted, the Plugable UD-3900 and Surface Pro 2 do really go great together. Indeed, it is a good buy.

Plugable-UD-3900-USB3.0-Docking-Station-Connect

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Gadgets

The Search For The Perfect 7 Inch Phone

I decided a while back to try out a 7 inch tab as my main phone. My reasons were simple;

  1. My quest for a functional and productive mobile device informed my decison to a stick to a Windows OS powered tablet. However, the allure of an android tab remains.
  2. In a bid to save myself from gadget overload, it did make sense to me to converge my desire for an android tab with my existing smartphone into a single form factor that could pass for both.
  3. Of course, I will also be avoiding the cost of shelling out money for two devices when I could just pick up one.

So far, the easiest part of it all has been actually deciding to tow the 7 incher smartphone line. Deciding on a shortlist of phones to choose from has been nothing short of a nightmare.

Problem is, not a single tab made the cut.

The 4 key specs I desired in my ideal tab are;

  1. 7 inch screen size
  2. Dual SIM
  3. 16GB internal memory
  4. 2GB RAM

Funny thing is, while these specs seem common place with sub 7 inch smartphones, I am yet to find a 7 inch tab sporting 16GB internal memory and 2GB RAM with Dual SIM. Funny, isn’t it? The surprising thing is that the nameless or little known Chinese brands have these features packed into their 7 inch offerings almost by default. Why is that?

I admit that there is a lot I am yet to understand about the smartphone manufacturers, especially those that have affiliations with the Western world and their reasons for some of the decisions they make.

As it is, I just might take a second look at these Chinese brands to make my pick.

image